Pranab to accord Chinese scholar with Indian honour in Beijing

May 29th, 2008 - 8:38 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet a very special person during his visit to China next week. Ji Xianlin is one of China’s leading Indologists who warmed the hearts of millions of his countrymen with his translation of the Ramayana from the Sanskrit to Chinese during the ‘Cultural Revolution’. Ji was this year named for the Padma Bhushan, one of the top civilian honours of India, for his contribution to strengthening Sino-Indian cultural ties. The 97-year-old scholar is the first Chinese to receive this honour.

“The minister will personally go and present the award to Ji at his house in Beijing,” South Block sources told IANS Thursday.

Mukherjee is to pay an official visit to China June 4-7. This will be his first visit to the country since he became the foreign minister of India.

Announcing the visit in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters Thursday that Mukherjee’s visit, at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, will help promote “mutual political trust” and take forward the Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

Besides Yang, the external affairs minister will meet other senior leaders of China. He will also visit Guangzhou and inaugurate the Indian consulate there.

Mukherjee has expressed his keenness to go and meet the great Chinese scholar and Indologist while in Beijing.

Ji, who majored in the Sanskrit from the University of Gottingen in Germany in 1936, chose the Indian language over other subjects since he felt the Chinese culture has been greatly influenced by India.

He had to translate the Ramayana from the Sanskrit into Chinese secretly since during the ‘Cultural Revolution’ under Mao Tse Dong, that began in 1966 and went on for 10 long years, strict guidelines were enforced to weed out foreign influence on the Chinese culture.

Apart from translating the Ramayana, Ji has written seven books, including a short history of India.

“Conferring the Padma Bhushan on Ji was very well received in China and the minister’s decision to go to him personally and hand over the award is likely to go a long way in strengthening people-to-people relations between the two countries,” sources said.

Mukherjee’s visit to China takes place at a time when both countries feel more confident with each other to raise and discuss any issue that is of concern to them. The leadership in Beijing has already expressed its appreciation over the way India handled the Tibetan demonstrations in its capital last month without allowing this to affect the torch relay for the Beijing Olympic Games.

South Block sources said the entire gamut of Sino-Indian bilateral relations will be put on the table for discussion during the foreign ministers’ meetings. A number of important regional and international developments are also likely to be discussed between Mukherjee and the Chinese leaders.

“There is no set agenda but a number of issues that are of concern and interest to the two sides will come up for discussion during the external affairs minister’s visit to China next week,” sources added.

Sections in the Indian establishment have been a little miffed with China for not favouring openly India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. This ambiguity was maintained even at the recent Brazil-Russia-India-China quadrilateral meeting in Russia between the foreign ministers of the four countries.

China, on the other hand, is not too happy with the restrictions that India continues to impose on Chinese companies in the power sector and other areas of infrastructure development in the country.

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